Even if it was a rustbucket that barely got you from point A to point B, you totally remember your first car. You remember begging your dad for it; the mild case of whiplash after learning how to accelerate and brake in an empty parking lot; the classes for the learner’s permit, and finally getting your first driver’s license.
Maybe you drove the family car at first, or Dad’s old car. But after a time, it came down to you saving up your money and talking with your parents about getting your own car. Now it’s 20-30 years later and you’ve got the same situation in your own home. How should you, as a single dad, divorced dad or new step dad, respond to buying your teenager’s first car?
Here’s a few things to think about and do as you’re purchasing your teenager’s first car:
So Your Teenager Wants His First Car?
Research at Car Shows
If you’re in the market to find your teen a new car to drive, it’s always a great idea to hit local car events or even attend national auto shows. These are great opportunities to learn more about new cars and get ideas for new safety features, especially if you don’t know much about them.
One of the biggest shows in the country is the Dallas-Fort Worth Auto Show at the Dallas Convention Center. It’s a great opportunity to compare different brands of cars and their models and get a look at unreleased models that will hit Toyota Fort Worth dealerships in years to come.
Is It Deserved?
Occasionally, teens today have a false sense of entitlement. Some of them think that a car is a birthright, given just as as soon as they have a driver’s license. For some families perhaps that’s expected, but if you’re ultimately the one footing the bill, you make the decision. Is there a real need for your teen to drive right now? Are you ready for the impact on your finances? Do you trust your teen will be able to control a vehicle or will it become a metal missile threatening life and limb? Know when a car is deserved and if your son or daughter is mentally ready to get behind the wheel.
New or Used?
What kind of car to drive? Will it be new or used? Can you buy it privately from an owner? Or will you need to finance it through your bank or dealer? The editor of AutoWeek suggests spending more for a new car rather than saving money on a used one, because a new car acts as “insurance against breakdowns and repairs.” Sometimes it may better or more affordable to buy used, but this strategy can backfire if the used car starts to need maintenance and repair work.
Whether you buy the car or the teen buys the car, it’s a learning opportunity for both. AutoNation recommends including your teen throughout the car-buying process. It’s complicated and he or she will need to learn the process. Establishing a budget, researching cars within the limits of a budget and researching where and from whom to purchase a car.
This is pretty much a no-brainer. Insurance is based on ownership, but even if your teenager is the only person on title, adding them to your policy will almost always be cheaper than getting them a policy of their own. If you can purchase your teen’s car outright and it’s only worth a couple thousand dollars, it’s a good idea to just get your teen liability coverage. If there is a loan on the car, the lender will usually require that you get full coverage so that their investment is protected as well. Discounts for being a good student, safety features, driver’s training, and mileage can make a huge difference in how much insurance will cost.